This morning, I just started driving. Sometimes, when I don’t know where to run, I just jump in my truck and pick a direction. I’ve already run my neighborhood into the ground. I’m tired of it. I explore, nowadays.
So I put in a call to one of my favorite running partners, The Runner’s Corner in Orem. When the young guy picked up (I’m 37, so now anyone who sounds young is half my age in my mind) I just flat-out asked: “What trails do you like to run in Utah County?” When we hung up, I headed over to 800 East in Orem and started driving north. I took that road until I ran into the sign that assured me that I was back on the
familiar Bonneville Shoreline Trail. I parked and started walking toward the trail…
…straight up. Up I walked (too steep and too much ice and snow to run this section) for about a half mile before it leveled off enough to run a bit. Another woman was on the trail with her dog. She and I alternated running and walking (she’d walk while I ran, and vise versa), with only a few words of banter- this was pretty hard work.
At one point, I ran ahead for a couple of minutes. When I looked behind me, she and her dog were gone. That was the last person I saw on the trail, going up. I guess the last time I saw her
was at mile 1 or so.
For almost all of this trail, I was in about 3-4 inches of snow. I’d forgotten how hard running in snow is. It’s not impossible, by any means, but there is extra friction and your feet get slightly heavier as snow accumulates on your shoes.
I still wasn’t completely recovered from Saturday’s 9 mile total, so today’s run had been debated, even up until the time I started lacing up.
When I hit mile 1.5, I got a little nervous, because it was time to turn around. Turning around, nowadays, starts the voices. The voices tell me to take off my
shoes and socks to prove that barefoot running really is important and provides benefits that shodden running can’t. Other times, the voices tell me that this is stupid and that if God wanted me to run barefoot, he would have made sure I was born in a third world country (these voices usually belong to people I’m friends with- very very good friends.)
I’ve run on cold streets, in cold mud and on hard-packed snow. But I’ve never run in snow that my feet sink into, up to my ankles. This was difficult for me. I’m not sure I can honestly say that this is preferred running for me. It’s fine for a bit, but after a while, you start
wondering how long you can keep it up. When a foot would leave the ground, I’d curl my toes to make sure that I could still feel them. At one point, the bottoms of my feet got a little tingly, then hot. I’m pretty sure the “hot” was more “really cold” than anything. But still, I could feel my feet, so I’m pretty sure I was ok. I’m also pretty sure that some would disagree with me.
A thought occurred to me as I was running. Oftentimes in life, we ask ourselves why we do what we do, especially if it’s hard to explain to those who know us the best. The only thing I can say is this: To me, I think it’s important to have something that you do or practice that you don’t feel
you have to explain to anyone.
But let me say this about barefoot running. For me, I just don’t want running to become boring. To some degree, it has. When I get bored, I stop doing the things that I feel I should do. If I stop running, I’ll have a really hard time looking back on my life, knowing that I could have been much happier, had I stayed in shape. So for me, barefoot running is somewhat of a gimmick that keeps me focused and engaged. Fortunately, I believe that the gimmick has practical value, as well. But explaining the gimmick is oftentimes lost on folks. So there you go. My advice, for today, is this: If could can’t explain it, you don’t have to. You’re allowed to have a couple of unexplainable quirks.
Oh, but back to end this story- I made it. I gingerly climbed back in my truck and warmed up as the hot air blew on my feet. At home, irony dictated that I ice my legs and feet, so I did.
Good call, Runner’s Corner.
Difficulty level: 7
Level of fun: Like, about 7, also.
Here’s a little video of running in the snow: